Church Dad: 5 Things I Learned From My Fathers
I have been in and around the church all my life. My father was a pastor when I was a little boy. My step-father was a pastor in my late teens and early twenties. I served faithfully at the church he and my mother pastored for close to 15 years. Now, I am a pastor. One thing I have found out is that men at church must father their children and become a “Church Dad”.
Too many times we place titles and positions over one of the most important titles a man can have. That beloved title is father; dad. As a society, it’s imperative we teach our sons to become men, then husbands, and then fathers. We must adopt the same teaching in the church as well, but that is often overlooked for more “spiritual things”. Can we get any more spiritual than our family? God gave Adam, Eve. This husband and wife eventually had children. Their children were their ministry, their church. It’s time to stop neglecting our first ministry to minister to others. It’s time to stop neglecting our first ministry to take care of the church ministry. It’s time to stop trying to save the whole world at the cost of losing our entire family.
There has to be balance. A former pastor of mine told me, “Balance is the key to life”. Even though he did not quite have the balance thing right in many areas of his own life, he knew it was a vital key. How do we balance teaching our sons while trying to serve our pastor? How do we balance fathering our daughters while at the same time attending church 3 to 4 times a week? We need to father with purpose in order to raise sons and daughters that will share our same faith and willingly teach their kids to do the same instead of running away from the church like the church is the Boogeyman.
I would like to share 5 things with you that can help us restore balance to our parenting. With this balance, we will shift from church goer and kingdom-minded citizen to Church Dad.
It’ Okay to Cry at Church
It was a Sunday morning church service that I was attending with my father. The location was World of Pentecost, now known as Promiseland in Austin, Texas. As a pre-teen I remember standing next to my father in the main service. I looked up at him and saw a single tear role down his cheek. Wow, my dad is crying I thought. Before then, I had never seen my father cry. I knew it wasn’t because he was upset or sad, but because of his love for God. God had touched him so, until he was overcome with emotion. That has stayed with me for over 25 years.
My father being vulnerable like that taught me that it was okay for me to be transparent with God. It also taught me that I did not have to play cool at church and act like the spirit of God was not dealing with me. This is something that I have repeated time and time again. I’ll cry at church and before God because of who He is and what He has done for me. I’ll shed tears in front of my wife and my daughter at church, if needed, because I love God. And when I do it, I am consciously aware that I am leaving the same legacy and example with my children that my father showed me.
2. It’s Okay to be Passionate About What You Believe
As I served my late pastor and inherited father, Bishop Ira Darden, Sr., he taught me that it was okay to be passionate about what you believed in. Whether he was right or wrong, if dad believed it, you better believe he was extremely passionate and vocal about it. He would tell people everywhere he went about a particular thing he was passionate about in that season, but most importantly, he would share his faith about God. Through his example, it solidified in me to do what I do for God with all my heart. To keep it 100 and “go hard” was how he lived life. “I’m not mad, I’m just passionate” is a motto he adopted in his later years. So I too, live life with passion.
3. Go to Church
Going to church so much and so often instilled value in my heart about getting to the house of God. Even when I wasn't trying to live according to the bible in my first year of college, my feet still found their way into somebody’s church on Sunday morning. Many people are familiar with the scripture where it says to forsake not the assembling of ourselves together. In other, words go to church.
The men in my life taught me that it wasn’t about just going to church, but it was about what happened at church. I would get to hear the sermons that would seemingly be handpicked for me. I would get to be encouraged by others who cared about me. I could see other people who looked like me and was going through some of the same struggles I was going through. They taught me that even though I didn’t feel like it all the time, it was good to go. I also learned balance; that I would not be able to make it all the time and that was okay. If I had others depending on me, they taught me to call and be accountable. So today, I still go to church.
Allegories and Illustrations
4. Let God’s Teaching Make Sense To You
In my father's sermons, he used great metaphors and allegories. I remember a few phrases he would use often. He would compare God to Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes and say that, “God was Grrrreat!” He would compare God to Campbell’s Soup and say ,“He’s Mmmmm Good.” He would compare God to Coca-Cola and say, “He’s the Real Thing.” I thought it was so cool. I mean this was my dad. He was and is smooth, but he was being himself.
Through this, it was the first time that I learned to start being me; that I was an original. My father was just being himself. It also taught me that it was okay to break the word of God down in a way that was real, relevant, and that made sense to me while maintaining the integrity and context of the word. Consequently, I find the use of the metaphors and modern day parables helpful when I’m teaching as well.
5. Talk to God Often
The final tip that I learned from my fathers at church was to pray.
Talk to God and talk to him often. This has been a great asset and tool in my life, praying. Communication with God. That’s great, right? It’s also equally important for fathers to teach their sons to communicate with others and share their feelings. In prayer, we voice our concerns, wants, frustrations, and emotions to God. Shouldn’t it be fair that we teach our children to be able to verbalize and voice their concerns, wants, frustration, and emotions to others in an appropriate and healthy way?
Speaking of communication, as fathers moving into the conscious arena of becoming a church dad, it’s important that we teach our children while we lead our children. For example, teach your children about why you follow another man of God as your pastor or woman of God. Teach your children why it’s important to go to church. Teach your children the importance of investing your time at church functions and other activities. In doing so, don’t just take the easy way out and say pastor wants us to go or pastor said we have to do it that way. Teach them why. This will also bring balance and understanding.
If we don’t teach while we lead, there are other areas of interest and distractions fighting for our kids attention. If our children don’t have a firm foundation on why they do what they do, they can be lost. Don’t just be the deacon, the Sunday school teacher, the greeter, the minister, the pastor, and etc. Become a Church Dad and father with intent. Balance is the key to life. It’s time that we win our families back, so as families we can go impact our generation through the love of God.
D. David Bryant is a devoted husband, father, and entrepreneur. He is a noted fatherhood advocate and keynote speaker who has traveled the nation encouraging fathers and families. He is the author of the book, "And David Danced With All His Might" and creator of an original character named Bozo the H.O.Z.O. the Christian Clown. David is very charismatic and engaging. He has a way of breaking down topics that make sense to the audience he is speaking to whether it is a group of elementary students or a group of incarcerated fathers. To be added to our mailing list to receive more content from D. David Bryant click here. Find out more information about David at www.bryant-enterprises.com and www.bozothehozo.com.